Saturday, March 27, 2010

Alexander Downer

I don't know who Alexander Downer is. Tomorrow's person is an actor, so maybe he fits in with him. I think there's a bunch of actors and actresses coming up.

Nope. Downer is not an actor. He's a Liberal politician.

He looks familar to me. I wonder if I saw him on The Howard Years.

Downer was the Foreign Minister from 1996-2007. He was also Leader of the Liberal Party around 1994 to 1995.

Maybe Downer had a part to play in the Tampa Affair.

Baby Alexander was born in Adelaide, South Australia on 9 September 1951.

Now I'm thinking maybe I don't recognize Downer from The Howard Years. He kind of looks like a guy that Tim and my dad used to work with.


Downer was born into a political family. Grandpa Downer was Premier of South Australia, and one of the first Members of Parliament. Daddy Downer was a Member of Parliament, and Minister of Immigration. Later he left Parliament, and became the High Commissioner to London.

Young Alexander Downer started his education at Geelong Grammar School. Then when he was about thirteen, his dad got that Commissioner job, and they all moved to London. I wonder how he felt about that...excited for a new adventure, or sad about leaving his life and friends?

It looks like Downer stayed in England until 1976. He did his post secondary-education there. I'm guessing he got himself an economics degree, because he then worked for the Bank of New South Wales as an economist.

Lord Wiki says that the Bank of New South Wales is now Westpac.

Downer worked there for about a year, and then he joined the Australian Diplomatic Service. For a time he was at Brussels, and learned French.

Where is Brussels? Well, I know it's in Europe. But where? I'm going to go look it up. Oh! I'm SO dumb. It's Belgium. For some reason, I was thinking that it was a country. See. Now I've further proven that Americans have some type of faulty geography gene. I'm usually not that bad though.

I still have to find it on the map though.... Okay. Here we go. Belgium borders Germany, France, and the Netherlands.

Downer did the diplomatic thing for a few years. Then he started working as an adviser to Prime Minister Fraser. Then when the Liberal Party went into the shadows, Downer was adviser to the new leader....Andrew Peacock.

In 1984, Downer became a Member of Parliament via the seat of Mayo. I don't like that because it reminds me of mayonnaise. I have a strong aversion/phobia of that stuff. It ends up I'm not alone. Last night, I caught a bit of Jimmy Fallon's show, and he said he hates mayonnaise too.

Downer had the Mayonnaise seat for a long time....until 2008. That's twenty-four years.

In 1993, Downer became Shadow Treasurer. John Hewson was the party leader at the time. Then in 1994, Downer became leader. He did that for eight months, and was then replaced by John Howard.

Lord Wiki says that what led to Downer's downfall was his off-color sense of humor. At a formal party, people talked about the Liberal Party's motto being The Things that Matter. Downer joked that the party's domestic violence policy could be called The Things That Batter.

I don't know. I personally don't find it horribly offensive. But I've never been beaten up by a spouse or boyfriend. If I had, I might feel differently. It's one of those things. In my non-experienced point of view, it's a silly play on words. That's all.

When Downer resigned as party leader, he pledged his full support to John Howard, and threatened violence to anyone who undermined Howard's chance of being Prime Minister. I think he was probably joking. The men in my family do that a about beating people up and all that. I wonder if it's a guy thing. Or is it just my family? I don't think they threaten the actual person. Instead, it's kind of part of their venting.

I had a conversation with two people about all this. We talked about our revenge fantasies. The male said his were violent. The other female said she imagined doing stuff like slashing their tires. Mine are all about guilt. I don't want to beat someone up, or put laxatives in their hot chocolate. I imagine myself getting hurt, and then the person feeling horribly guilty that they were mean to me. Or I just simply fantasize that the person comes to their senses and apologizes. But I guess with that scenario, I sometimes imagine them getting to that point by Karma doing to them what they did to me. So in some ways, I guess I do wish harm on people. But it's not that I want them to suffer. It's more that I want them to LEARN. Karma has taught me a few lessons in life. I think that whole system works fairly well.

It looks like Downer didn't enjoy being the Liberal Party Leader. He said, The moment when I wanted to [leave] was just about the first day I started in the job. There was many a time from the first day onwards when I thought to myself, 'How the hell can I get out of this? That reminds me of me. I think I'd have the exact same reaction. I'd much rather be in Brussels having French lessons.

When Howard became Prime Minister, he let Downer choose his ministry. That's pretty cool. I've not heard of Prime Ministers doing that. But maybe they do, and it's just not mentioned.

Downer chose Foreign Minister. With his earlier traveling adventures, that probably fit him well.

Now Lord Wiki goes through the various stuff that Downer was involved with as Foreign Minister.

There was a Papua New Guinea thing. He worked with New Zealand to bring peace to some civil conflict over there. Lord Wiki says the revolt began in 1988, and killed 20,000 people. I wonder how much of a role Australia had in ending it.

In 1996, Downer worked on an anti-nuclear testing treaty. I'm not fully understanding all this. I think basically there's been anti-nuclear treaties since the 1950's, but countries have disagreed on the wording. If I'm reading this right, Downer helped write a new treaty. Maybe?

Pakistan, India, and North Korea failed to jump on board. And guess who else? Of course. The United States. But Obama says he's going to try to fix that.

In 1999, Downer tried to help with East Timor. He negotiated to let something called INTERFET into the country. East Timor was trying to get independence from Indonesia. The United Nations agreed with this, but I guess some people did not. There was a bunch of fighting. The INTERFET was brought in to try and make things more peaceful.

Lord Wiki says Osama Bin Laden wasn't happy with Australia for interfering with the East Timor thing. Really? I guess he was on Indonesia's side?

I googled Australia and Bin Laden, and got this funny video.

In 2003, there was more East Timor stuff. This involved a treaty over oil reserves. I guess basically Australia claimed some gas reserves even though they were closer to East Timor.

Lord Wiki says Downer played a part in the Tampa Affair. It looks like he might have played a big part. It was Downer who told Parliament that Australia has no obligation to welcome the asylum seekers into Australia territory.

The Howard Years has an interview with Downer about the whole incident. I can't say I agree with what Downer is saying, but I think his voice is beautiful.

Downer still refers to the Tampa folks as people smugglers.

He complains that the Norwegian Minister called him at 2 in the morning. Uh, when you have a big role in politics, shouldn't you expect to be woken up sometimes? Isn't that part of the job? Hello?! I mean I can imagine a politician being upset if someone called to say, Hey, what are you wearing to the UN meeting? Do you think a red tie would go with a blue suit? But I think a boat full of desperate people kind of warrants a phone call.

Downer says that allowing the Tampa boat into Australia waters would destroy Australia's integrity. Well, I think the response they chose instead diminished some integrity.

I think Downer would have been better off as a voice actor for children's cartoons. He'd be great as some kind of Aussie animal. Maybe a Southern Cassowary. And in this job, I doubt anyone would call and disturb Downer's sleep.

Downer says that Nauru had recently called Australia to borrow money. Australia was looking for a place to dump the asylum seekers. Downer though, Why not made a deal with Nauru?

And with New Zealand..... Downer heard a radio broadcast from there. The Prime Minister of New Zealand said that if the asylum seekers were near their coast, New Zealand would have taken them. So Downer then had the High Commissioner from New Zealand come to his office. He told him about the broadcast, and suggested that since New Zealand was so welcoming, would they be willing to take some of the refugees. Wow. He really put them on the spot. I gotta admit. That was pretty clever of Downer. Although I can't be that impressed since Australia didn't take any of the refugees....well, as far as I know.

I'm trying to think of an analogy. Okay. Here's one. Let's say Jeffrey's mom is in a nursing home, and he rarely visits her. Then Jeffrey's friend Phillip says, If that was my mom, I'd visit her every Sunday, and bring her flowers. He's all self-righteous, and Jeffrey tries to put him in his place. I'd be impressed with Jeffrey if he said, Hey, that's cool. I have an idea. We'll both go to visit her every Sunday. She'll love having two visitors. You bring the flowers. I'll bring some candy. I'd be less impressed if Jeffrey said, Cool. Then you visit her every Sunday. I'm staying home.

There's some Bali bombing stuff here. Downer was accused of not passing on intelligence. Maybe it could have saved lives? Downer argued that there wasn't enough information to justify telling the Australian people. Isn't that similar to what happened in 9/11? I mean there was a failure in passing important information.

Downer supported the war in Iraq. I can't say I'm surprised. He also supported the American imprisonment of David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib.

After Howard stopped being Prime Minister, Downer moved to the Opposition backbench.

In May 2008, he expressed some interest in being the Shadow Treasurer. But then in July, he resigned from Parliament. I wonder why.

In his non-parliamentary life, Downer does part-time work with the United Nations regarding some peace issues in Cyprus. And he also does work for a British corporate investigation company called Hakluyt and Company.

I'm done with Lord Wiki.

Next, I'm going to read this Lateline interview. It was done in March 2009...about a year ago. The interview seems to be about Joel Fitzgibbon believing that people within his department were spying on him. Downer is asked his opinion, and Downer says that things like that don't happen. He has faith in the system. He paints Fitzgibbon as paranoid and incompetent, while painting himself as very trusting.

In the rest of the interview, he gives negative opinions on Kevin Rudd, Obama, and the people who voted for them.

He says the reason the Liberal Party isn't doing well is that the Australian public voted them out, and they don't want to rush ahead in admitting that they were wrong. Downer says, They're prepared to give Kevin Rudd and his Government a fair go; there's no question of that. That's human nature and that's entirely understandable.

And here's another ABC interview. This one was done about a year before the last one....March 2008.

Downer acts very noble. He says, I mean whether I'll talking to Condi Rice or whether I'm talking to the President of the Mt Barker Rotary Club, I mean they're both people and have different interests and different perspectives but I enjoy both. That's a good attitude to have. Although I think it's one that 99.5% of humans claim to have, and about 15% truly do.

Downer says he loves to read. So, that's one thing I can like about him.

Downer says his wife didn't like him being in politics. Well, that's not very supportive. Why would she have married him then? If you don't like politics, why would you marry a man who's father and grandfather were Members of Parliament? Maybe she fell in love despite her misgivings. That happens sometimes. I will never marry someone who loves country music. Then you fall crazy in love with a fan, and you tell yourself they're not that much into it. It won't be too awful....

Towards the end of the interview, Downer starts accusing the ABC of being left-wing. This is when the ABC interviewer mentions that some people say that Australia has contracted out their foreign policy to the United States. Downer says.... but you know it's all just part of the left wing narrative, I mean of course we didn't contract our foreign policy out to Washington. I mean where do, it's just, it's just this sort of left wing narrative and anti liberal narrative, they just run and run...

Downer then says they did NOT agree with the United States on everything. So, the interviewer asks him to name a thing in which they disagree with the United States. He responds: You bought it yourself, you put me on the program and you decide you decide you'll have a big confrontation with me about us contracting our foreign policy out to the United Nations.

Wow! What drama! Does he answer the question though? Let me read further.....

Okay. Here it is. Downer and his people supported the idea of an international criminal court. The United States did not. And he says it's not always Australia following in what the United States does. Sometimes Australia has influence over the United States.

I'm going to take a break, and go outside with Jack so he can ride his bike. The weather is very nice today.

Then I'll come back and do more reading. Or maybe I'll watch some videos. We'll see......

I'm back.

Here's a confession. I do all that talk about how we should graciously accept differences of opinion. Well, just now I was on Facebook and had an urge to delete a "friend" because she became a "fan" of some Anti-Obama healthcare thing. I'm such a hypocrite. But the good news is I came to my senses. I didn't delete her from my list.

It is hard to tolerate differences of opinions though. I can get agitated when I see things I strongly disagree with. But I try my best to be accepting, hoping that others will be accepting in return. Most of them do...which is good, since I'm so weird.

While I was getting ready to go outside, I thought of the whole media bias thing. Was Downer right in accusing ABC of having a left bias? Maybe. Well, I guess I can go ask Lord Wiki.

Before I do that though....I'd say all media has a bias of some sort. I think it's funny that us on the left bash Fox for being so biased. But the stuff we watch is biased as well. I actually don't watch a lot of news on TV. The one thing I watch sometimes is Stephen Colbert. That's VERY biased....and very funny too.

What I think is sad is when righties watch Fox news and are completely ignorant of the bias, and/or the manipulation of information. I also think it's sad when lefties watch stuff like Michael Moore and don't realize how manipulative that is.

Well, Lord Wiki says ABC HAS been accused of having a left bias. But then it's also been accused of having a right bias. Do any of you notice a bias? Left or right?

I'm asking Lord Wiki about other American news networks. He says CNN and MSNBC have both been accused of having a left bias. Then Fox has the really right bias. I wonder if there's any that are seen as being more in the middle. A person on suggests the best way to get unbiased news in America is to watch a variety of news channels...including international ones. That makes sense. What I do for news is go to Google News. They have headlines from a variety of sources. But who knows. Google might have biases as well. Maybe certain sources are more often emphasized.

For those of you in Australia, which news source do you think is least biased? I had been watching Sky News for awhile, and I got the sense it was biased a little to the right. I'm not sure if that was my imagination or not.

Anyway, back to Downer.....

Here's a video of Downer accidentally insulting his wife in Parliament. It's cute. I think I'm more amused by the reaction of Parliament. Those MP's sure got the giggles. It's like when my third grade teacher would read us chapter books, and we'd giggle like crazy when something like toilet paper was mention.

This video is pretty classic. It's Downer doing Midnight Oil....or so it seems. It made me laugh. I don't know if it's really that funny, or I'm just in one of those easily amused moods.

There are all these serious videos....interviews and stuff. But now I've gotten in the mood for comedy. Bring me the funny stuff!

Here's a Chaser thing, but it's not working for me. See if it works for you, and tell me if it's funny or not.

Oh wait. Now it works for me. It's funny, in a very immature silly way. And I'm silly and immature, so it fits me quite well.

All right. I think I'm going to quit here.....


  1. Most of my revenge fantasies involve sex. I don't know - I guess it's kind of the best sort of revenge in my opinion. well it's entertaining anyway.

    May you never end up on my bad side


  2. HappyOrganist,

    Now THAT is fascinating.

    I'm going to be really wondering about this.....

    Do you curse people with bad sex or something?

  3. I found The Chaser thing funny. I think Alexander Downer would have too, he has a good sense of humor.

  4. Michael,

    Yeah. I thought it was funny.

    Glad to know Downer has a good sense of humor.